GAO's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) serves GAO and the Congress, following the federal dollar wherever it goes. The scope and depth of our legal expertise is unparalleled in the federal government. Check out our blog post on GAO's Attorneys. Learn more about working for OGC (PDF, 2 pages). Vacancy announcements for current job openings, including lateral attorney positions and entry-level positions, are posted on USAJOBS, but applicants must submit their materials to LegalCareers@gao.gov. Information about applying to GAO’s Summer Associate program is provided below.
Most of our attorneys are assigned to teams to provide legal advice, analysis, and services to the Comptroller General and GAO analysts assessing federal programs. These services can fall under such diverse practice areas as:
- homeland security and immigration
- environment and energy
- banking and financial services regulation
- health care
- administrative law and regulatory process
- federal contracts
- information technology
- criminal law
- legislative drafting and analysis
We also have a group of attorneys who act as quasi-administrative law judges to resolve disputes over the award of federal contracts. Read more about our bid protest process.
Another group serves as the federal government’s experts on appropriations law. Read more about our appropriations law work.
In addition, some of our attorneys serve as in-house counsel to GAO. We deal with a variety of issues in equal employment opportunity, personnel, and labor laws. We also represent GAO in administrative hearings and litigation involving GAO’s work.
The Legal Honors Program
In summer 2023, GAO’s Office of the General Counsel will begin recruiting for our 2024 Summer Associate class. On July 10, 2023, we will begin accepting applications from rising 2L (or equivalent) law students who expect to graduate in the spring of 2025. (Applications submitted before July 10th will not be considered.) We will be inviting applications from students who attend any ABA accredited law school. Applicants will be required to submit a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample of up to 10 pages. Interviews will be conducted virtually. To apply, please send the materials noted above to LegalCareers@gao.gov. Include “2024 Summer Associate” in the subject heading of your message. Please check USAJobs on July 10th for more details about the program and how to apply. The application deadline is 11:59 pm (EDT) on August 9, 2023.
OGC’s summer associate legal honors program is the primary hiring tool for building OGC’s workforce of highly capable attorneys. Summer associates work a minimum of 10 weeks, but may work longer if their schedules permit.
Typically, summer associates work in two of OGC’s various teams. In their time at GAO, summer associates can gain experience in such areas as homeland security and immigration law, environmental and energy law, fiscal law and constitutional law, or government contracts—to name a few.
OGC gives its summer associates significant responsibility during the summer. They complete intellectually stimulating projects that are equivalent in complexity to those given to entry-level attorneys. For example, a summer associate may advise an audit team on legal matters or fully participate in a bid protest decision. Summer associates who perform well may receive offers of permanent employment.
In addition to the important and rewarding work, summer associates have a wide range of other experiences and activities planned for their summer at GAO. Prior years’ activities include exclusive tours of the Supreme Court and Capitol building. OGC also holds several social gatherings designed to allow summer associates the chance to meet their OGC colleagues.
GAO pays summer associates at rates competitive with other federal agencies, and they are eligible for transit benefits to cover transportation costs.
GAO’s honors program for entry-level attorneys, known as the Attorney Development Program (ADP), offers top candidates the opportunity to start their legal careers working on the most important issues facing the federal government, in a dynamic and collegial environment.
Entry-level attorneys are primarily hired through OGC’s summer associate legal honors program.
Occasionally, OGC may provide opportunities for unpaid externships to individuals who express interest. Externs must be students who are enrolled at least half-time in an accredited law school. Externs arrange with their law schools to earn course credit in exchange for working at GAO. If you are interested in an externship, please submit a resume, cover letter, transcript, and writing sample to LegalCareers@gao.gov. In your cover letter, please indicate when you are available for an externship (for example, "fall 2023" or "2023-2024 academic year") and any deadlines associated with your law school's externship program.
GAO provides a full range of benefits to all staff, including attorneys. These include flexible work hours, student loan repayments, and a transit subsidy. GAO staff can also take advantage of our on-site fitness center and an on-site day care center.
The following benefits are specific to GAO attorneys:
You get the information and resources you need for professional growth. Intensive training programs help you handle a wide range of assignments and keep you up-to-date on challenges in the law and major public policy issues.
Annual bar dues reimbursement
GAO pays for our attorneys to remain active members in one state bar.
GAO is not subject to the GS scale used by most executive branch agencies. Instead, GAO uses a band system:
|Band Level||2023 Salary Ranges||Eligibility for Promotion Consideration|
|I||$94,686 - $136,721||After two years, eligible for promotion to Band II|
|II||$129,847 - $181,729||After two years at Band II, eligible for promotion to Band III|
|III||$161,824 - $183,500|